Science is one of my favourite homeschool subjects to teach. While I can’t say that I love the scientific method or memorizing periodic tables, I do love to study nature with my children.
When I mention nature study to friends or family, I’m sure they picture my kids running through the brush with magnifying glasses and clipboards, but there’s so much more to it than that!
Nature study is easy to include as a curriculum and it’s inexpensive too! Here are some ways to include this method of teaching in your homeschool.Want to start nature study in your homeschool? #homeschool #science Click To Tweet
What you need to get started
It doesn’t take much to get started with nature study. You can begin simply with a topic/item/place to explore, some paper (preferably a notebook), and pencils.
When we start a study, I try to set up a learning provocation (i.e. a bowl of shells or rocks). Sometimes a nature topic may be sparked by my children’s interest in something (like the birds at our bird feeder or some worms they found while digging in the dirt).
Investigating the topic
Once you have a topic, you can begin researching ways to investigate it with your children. The internet is full of resources to build a study around the subject you’re exploring.
Some of my favourite places to look for nature study content, information, and ideas are:
I also recommend purchasing a small book of ideas pertaining to the topic of your nature study.
My favourite source for nature study curriculum are the Nature Explorers books found on the Our Journey Westward website. These downloadable books are packed with content, activity ideas, and book recommendations. They also provide a wide variety of printable notebooking sheets.
One of the most essential aspects of the study is the opportunity for children to have hands-on experiences. Encourage your children to use their senses to explore their nature topics.
Your studies can include field visits to various places. Here are some locations to explore:
- your garden / backyard
- a local park
- river valley
- ponds and lakes
- wooded trails
- nature reserves
- national parks
- botanical gardens
When we learn something, it’s important that we document it. There are many ways for children to document their learning. Here are some great ways to record nature study findings:
Some of the best nature study documentation is done by writing about observations and discoveries. A simple notebook is a great place to record all of a child’s findings.
DRAWING / ART
Another wonderful way to document learning is through drawing and art. Children can sketch their findings in a notebook or you could provide them with online art lessons to simultaneously hone their art skills. I especially love the chalk pastel lessons from Nana at You ARE an Artist.
Allow children to take photos of the objects they’re investigating. They can be responsible for labeling and placing their photos in albums too.
Nature study resources and tools
There are some other awesome resources and tools that are fabulous additions to your nature study repertoire. Here are some additional items to consider:
- magnifying glasses
- small clipboards with paper (we have pencils attached to our clipboards)
- a microscope
- basket or bags to carry “samples” (i.e. rocks, leaves, twigs, flowers).
There are also some fabulous books to use in your nature explorations:
It’s so much fun to teach science through nature studies and it’s really easy to do too! With a few simple tools and some great resources, you’ll be on your way to unlimited exploration and discovery!
Do you participate in nature studies with your children? What do you enjoy about nature study?